Atheist: “I Still Believe in Good Friday”


Guest post by Chris Lubbers, Adjunct Professor of Philosophy, Muskegon Community College

Reflections on Good Friday

I remember being puzzled as a child in church—one of many times—about why the day on which Jesus was crucified was called “Good Friday.” What was good about that? It seemed pretty awful.

I was told that what was good was that Jesus died for our sins, thus saving us from the punishment of death. But everyone still sins, and everyone still dies.

Later I was told that saving us from death was a metaphor for saving us from the eternal torment known as hell, which was not a metaphor. Some people still went to hell, though, because they didn’t believe in Jesus. Whatever that meant.

Have you ever tried to just believe something that you didn’t already believe? Good luck.

Eventually, I was told that it didn’t really matter what we did. God chose from before the creation who would go to heaven and who would go to hell. Problem solved?

Studying Biblical scholarship, church history, theology, ethics and philosophy of religion offered me the opportunity to learn far more subtle, complex, nuanced and technical answers to these simple questions I had raised. But I found them all lacking.

So, why am I writing about Good Friday, when I don’t believe in Easter?

Because, even though I don’t think there are any such things as gods or places like heaven and hell, I still believe in Good Friday. I believe that Jesus was crucified by a powerful and corrupt empire, with the help of the religious leadership, whose authority Jesus questioned on a regular basis, sometimes violently.

Little has changed in two thousand years. Those in power still seek to destroy those who question their authority.

Every once in a while, though, someone comes along and reminds us that some things are worth dying for. They inspire us to do what is right and let the shameful injustice of those in power reveal itself to everyone.

I think today of all those girls, boys, women and men who have suffered and died for our sins.

Do we have enough courage not to avert our eyes?


6 thoughts on “Atheist: “I Still Believe in Good Friday”

  1. One would think that those who believe in a literal resurrection would be the type of people most willing to make the ultimate sacrifice. The dominant message in our culture has not been “What would you give your life for,” but “What would you kill for?” Jesus says in John 15:13 “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” Considering the next verse where Jesus refers to his disciples as friends, might the intended message of this verse be something like, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life to expose the corrupt marriage of religion and politics that often work to control the masses for the benefit of the elite and the exploitation of the poor, and, in so doing, inspire his friends to carry that same message forward”? I agree with you in that this lesson may be the only indisputable take-away from the Good Friday story that everyone could get on board with. I am also reminded that this type of intentional dying doesn’t start when the nails are driven into ones hands, the process usually takes several years to complete. (Thank you MLK, Ghandi, Howard Zinn…)


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